Here I'll catalogue a few more such references. Along the way, I'll share some thoughts about types of self-reference – without ever using the phrase authorial consciousness.
The novel's first chapter begins: "I have always been a writer. I wrote my first novel at the age of six. It was seven and a half pages long ... " That's clever and endearing.
Chapter Ten begins: "If there's one thing that gets up my sodding nose, it's starting a new chapter and finding that the poxy narrator has changed" – narrated no longer by the author, naturally, but by his coarse-mannered agent. That's pretty funny.
Chapter Four: "Perhaps at no time other than our own could a man reach comfortable middle age without confronting a dead body in the cold flesh." Less directly self-referential, all the funnier for its jab at the tendency of amateur sleuths to find dead bodies in greater numbers than do members of the general population.
Throughout: several musings by the protagonist upon the craft of writing mysteries but, most interesting, the effect that the novel's "real" mystery – the disappearance and apparent murder of the protagonist's former and long-estranged wife – has on his own stalled writing career as the investigation of that "real" mystery deepens:
"(I)n the damp autumn Sussex countryside, I forgot such troubles as I had seemed to have and started to see a picture of a sultry summer's evening in Buckford.
"Fairfax is sitting at his desk. He is once more contemplating retirement. And he is deeply troubled, though it is not yet clear about what. ... What happens next? I don't yet know. But the story has started flowing. And this small trickle may gather pace and become a stream, then a torrent that will carry the story off, who knows where? But that hot summer night would be the starting point."
Now, let's see where the story ends.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009